A Few Words With Deena Warner
Interview by Mark Sieber
Deena Holland Warner is a relative newcomer to the world of horror illustrations, but she is rapidly gaining recognition and respect by the gorgeous cover art she has already had published. She has provided visuals for fiction by Gary Braunbeck, Brian Keene and Peter Crowther, among others.
CD: Deena, have you always been attracted to images of dark and the macabre?
DW: As long as I can remember. My parents claim that I never let them read nice fuzzy stories to me -- I needed the dark and scary ones. I was always encouraged to draw, but I'm not sure if my parents meant for me to illustrate the lyrics to Iron Maiden songs! It seems I've always sought out the darkest images/stories/movies/songs I could find.
CD: Much of your work has been for writer Gary Braunbeck and I know that he is a favorite of yours. What attracted you to his work in the first place?
DW: Gary's work combines supernatural elements with emotional horror in such a seamless way. He is obviously well read in classic horror, which I admire and appreciate as a fellow classic literature buff. He's one of the only authors who can scare me within an inch of my life and simultaneously have me wrapped up in a character's emotions. When I read Gary's stuff, I always find myself sketching out images, because his work is so visually distinct.
The day he emailed me and asked to use a piece of my artwork, I was absolutely stunned. It's been wonderful to work with him, and to continue to do so. In the next year, I'll be working on his website and creating the artwork for "Prodigal Blues," to be released by Cemetery Dance. We'll also be starting the second volume of the Cedar Hill stories, coming out from Earthling Publications (http://www.earthlingpub.com).
CD: Were you influenced by the "classic" artists as well as those who currently work in the genre?
DW: Oh, yeah. The work of Hieronymous Bosch and Francisco Goya gives me chills. Somehow, work becomes creepier the more it ages. Humanity's fears change throughout the generations, so it's amazing to me that an artist who lived hundreds of years ago could create something that still scares me today.
I understand that you have done some movie posters. Can you
DW: At the second Horrorfind Convention, I met an enthusiastic and genuinely nice filmmaker named Jason Santo (http://www.mindscapepictures.com/). He commented that he'd always wanted an artist to paint one of his movie posters, and I quickly jumped at the task. I've done two posters for him, for "Again" and "Time Heals all Wounds." Those are his most dark, Twilight Zone-ish films, but he has a large catalog of films in all genres.
It's an interesting challenge to do a movie poster. Artwork is usually created twice as large as it will be reproduced, but movie posters are so big that doing an enlarged original is impractical. Even a 24" x 36" original piece of work is monstrous and takes on a life of its own. Also, since the work won't be reduced, flaws are harder to conceal. I had to really be careful with those images, but the experience was well worth it. It sure is cool to have your work plastered all over a movie opening!
CD: In addition to illustrations, you also do website design. Are you self-employed at this time?
DW: Actually, I just got a job working for a court-reporting agency proofreading transcripts. But, besides that, I stay busy with illustration and web design. That's almost a full-time job in and of itself, as I'm always balancing several projects. Right now I'm concepting both the "Tales From the Gorezone" anthology cover (Apartment 42 Publications) and Chesya Burke's upcoming chapbook "Chocolate Park" (Undaunted Press). Plus, I try to keep my own site fresh by offering new things like prints for sale and calendar downloads (2004 is up now).
CD: Is there a dream book or writer that you'd like to do illustrations for?
DW: Well, my dream book actually IS a dream book. I've had a desire for a while to do a coffee table book of horror writers' dreams. I'd like to do full-page illustrations opposite write-ups by many different authors of their craziest and most scary nightmares.
CD: Finally Deena, what scares you?
DW: Maggots. Oh, and all the normal stuff like loneliness, guilt, death, blah, blah. But maggots . . . Ugh!
Reprinted with permission from Cemetery Dance and Mark Sieber.